Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Throw a Dinner Party in a Small NYC Apartment

Think you can’t host a girls night or romantic dinner for two in your Manhattan apartment? Think again, ladies and gents! After moving into a 350 square foot studio in the East Village this summer, I hosted my first soiree for three of my best gal pals last weekend. We enjoyed a night of endless pours of wine, an indulgent cheese plate and were treated to Butternut Skillet Shells prepared by the lovely Caitlin of Style Within Reach.

It may be a tight squeeze to get everyone seated and you may even lack counter space to chop up your ingredients, but here are some helpful tips to successfully throw a dinner party in a tiny New York City apartment.

Keep it clean and tidy. In a tiny studio or loft your guests will be forced to see everything. And that means e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Sweep under your bed, Swiffer the bathroom floor, scrub that tub and make sure your mini closet isn’t so stuffed that clothes or boxes will come tumbling out.

Utilize table space. Clear off your coffee table or pick up a trendy tray (like this one I now have in my apartment) and keep it stocked with napkins, coasters and space for your guests’ cocktails. Or you can set it up like a buffet, if that’s your only tabletop space, so your guests can circle around it to sample and snack.

Get creative with places to sit. Alternative seating like stools, folding chairs and oversized pillows on the floor will open up space for your friends’ bottoms. And trust that some of your guests will feel most comfortable standing and walking around to mingle, so you don't need a seat for everyone.

A kitchen cart isn’t just for cooking. Set up your bar or appetizers on your drop-leaf kitchen cart for friends to gather around. I used mine for a cheese plate and to set jars of flowers. On weekdays, this cart is where I chop up veggies and even where I sit to work from home and write.

Play DJ. Plan ahead with a party playlist or assign this to one of your musically inclined pals. When guests begin to arrive, it’s nice to have music on in the background to keep introductions from getting awkward for those who are just meeting for your party.

Dim the lights. There’s nothing less flattering than an overhead light. Turn on your floor and table lamps to keep the lighting more dark and sexy than showroom-bright.

Party-proof your delicates. In a small space, people will bump into furniture or elbow into their wine glasses. Move anything breakable into your closet or to the top of a bookcase or high shelf. Cleaning up broken glass mid-party is a buzz killer.

Display coats, purses and luggage. Most of us New Yorkers don’t have a true coat closet (because it’s also stuffed with shoes, belts, blankets, etc). Invite your friends to place their outerwear and bags on your bed (which will be fixed, of course) to free up space.

Stock up on toiletries. Make sure you’ve got toilet paper, paper towels and plenty of trash bags for post-party cleanup.

Relax and enjoy! Remember, that your friends love you and are excited to check out your pad and hang out. Don’t stress about the small details. Sip your cocktail, make sure to have a few bites and spend the evening laughing. xo


  1. Some really great tips here! Thanks!

  2. I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.


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